“Something is happening, Cephas. And whatever is happening, it will be like sword and like fire and like bread in the mouths of a thousand, thousand children, and nothing will ever, ever be the same way again.”
My new novel, No Lasting Burial, undertakes the admittedly audacious task of retelling a story from the New Testament in the context of a world being devoured by the ravenous dead. I set out to retell a story that had always moved me deeply — and to do it by stripping away everything familiar and comfortable, forcing my readers to encounter the story in all of its raw, even shocking impact. I wanted the story to be new and unsettling all over again. I wanted readers to have their expectations turned upside down, and then to find themselves moved.
A reader from the UK wrote this to me today:
“About half way through No Lasting Burial and am struck by how it makes the Gospel message dangerous again. This is no comfort blanket prosperity gospel, but about a burning change within. The stranger turns up on the shore and immediately people have their preconceptions on what is good and just shattered. I love the scene of a stunned Shimon sharing a basket of fish with the boat people feeling his heart turned inside out. You can feel change spreading like a fire from the stranger on the shore.”
It meant a lot to me to receive this note. I am thrilled to find that some of the fire I feel in this story, readers are feeling, too. This is not a novel that is likely to be welcome in some churches. But in writing it, I could feel the heat of that fire; I could see why the story that served as source material for No Lasting Burial has burned hot as a torch many times in the past. I invite you to that wild moment on the shore, where the dead rise and where the voice of a stranger — who may be a prophet, witch, madman, or deity — turns all the world on its head.
You can read No Lasting Burial here.
P.S. This is what The Zombie Bible is about. It’s time to take back these stories, these ancient, fiery, passionate, demanding stories. Not so that we can put them to the service of a particular cause or creed, but instead to strip away the bulky clothing of political ideology or theological preconceptions and let the stories stand as naked and raw and shocking and powerful and human as they have stood in other centuries, on other continents. That’s what I (I hope) am about.
Biblical stories often shamble through our culture like zombies themselves, all flesh with no spirit; by making the stories strange and new to us again, The Zombie Bible might perform (if it works) a dangerous act of resurrection.
“There is great enjoyment to be found in it, but there is also the clarion call of challenge in it. No Lasting Burial invites us … to rediscover the wonder and strangeness of the God made flesh. … This is why I found No Lasting Burial intensely troubling and sharply beautiful.” – from Timothy Widman’s review on Wandering Paths.